Updated on 16/4/15 with a postscript containing:
1. A response from Theorie Communiste
2 A response from Tantquil
3. A response to these responses from me
4. A response to these responses from the TPTG
…and innumerable constantly arriving new comments in the comment section…
Original article (without postscript) published 13/4/15
Woland, an ex-member of Blaumachen and Sic, after having spent some odd years devising odd theories about the “era of riots” and the rise of the new revolutionary (non-)subject, has now found something more profitable to do: discarding his nom de guerre he has become Syriza’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Maritime Affairs and Tourism, Director of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, under his real name Manousos Manousakis. And all this movement of de-communisation in just over a year.
One of this ex-communiser’s many duties is to find the right government policy proportion of commons to privatizations, workers’ rights to capitalist investments.The fact that he is also vice president of the two-thirds privatised Greece Telecom as well as the guy Syriza has put in charge of Telecommunications is already becoming a bit of a scandal in Greece’s mainstream media – “a conflict of interests” as the pretension to State neutrality phrases it. But – it seems – it’s neither a scandal nor a “conflict of interests” amongst the ultra-lefthargic communisers of Sic and Blaumachen, whose silence on this subject is as deafening as the sound of a leaf falling during the explosion of a nuclear bomb.
There is also something else which is of importance here. Many of the SYRIZA’s high-profile cadres, who have been appointed as General Secretaries or senior councilors in ministries, used to be active participants in the social movements. As such, not only do they have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the movement and its practices, but they could also make use of their direct (or indirect) communication channels: from the mere acquisition of inside-information to the deployment of the (necessary) means of mediation even further inside the anti-authoritarian milieu and the movement in general. To give just one example, the traditional clientelist system is still being reproduced by partially integrating counter-cultural, counter-political and other informal social networks.
This weekend just gone (11th & 12th April) 2 meetings on the new Syriza government organised by Theorie Communiste, one in Lyon, the other in Marseille, were presented by Blaumachen. The announcement, in French, mentions nothing of their (presumably ex-) comrade, Commissar Woland, who has been the main theoretician of Blaumachen for almost 10 years. He has been a member of Sic and many of his articles have been published in this journal. In Greece, no members of Blaumachen or Sic have publicly criticized comrade Woland for his political choice to become a capitalist state functionary (in fact, a high rank state functionary involved in privatizations and capital investment plans). It is important to note that all members of these two groups knew about his political relationships with Syriza over the last few years. Silence is mouldy. Doubtless some have had their private doubts: how could this guy be a significant part of our scene and yet now be a member of the ruling class – and so quickly?! But, in this milieu, dominated as it is by the experts in “theory”, people not so versed in this intellectual expertise are so scared of finding themselves alone, of being accused of being wrong if they dare speak their mind, that they feel safer shutting up, as if such a fear didn’t indicate how alone they already were, despite being surrounded by a lot of strangers parading as “comrades”. And they expect others to dare make a revolution!?!
The announcement about these 2 meetings declares that Syriza’s electoral victory is
“a direct representation of Syntagma Square in May-June 2011”
“SYRIZA is the political expression of the previous wave of struggles, that is to say, in a sense its integration with the State or its étatification, not its elimination or defeat”
Contrary to this apologetic point of view, this electoral victory is exactly the result of the retreat, defeat or recuperation of the movement, as the TPTG explained in their text “OΝ SYRIZA ΑND ITS VICTORY IN THE RECENT GENERAL ELECTIONS IN GREECE“, proved as it is by the special case of the retreat and recuperation of the Blaumachen member into the state apparatus:
“The “movement of the squares” was based either on the creation of new “popular assemblies” in the neighbourhoods of Athens and in provincial towns or the temporary reinvigoration of already existing ones (with their genealogy going back to the December 2008 revolt). In the period following the movement of Syntagma square there was a current of mobilizations promoting “refusal of payments from below” organized mainly by the assemblies. The mobilizations mainly focused on the refusal of payment of: a) electricity bills, which at this point and for the next 3 years included a surcharge for a new property tax, b) transport tickets, the price of which had been increased, and c) highway tolls, which have been multiplied and at the same time their fare has been increased. The members of SYRIZA and other leftists, who participated in the “popular assemblies” promoted a shift of the focus of the mobilizations from proletarian antagonistic activities –e.g. the reconnection of electricity in working class houses or the blockade / sabotage of ticket cancelling machines in the metro stations – to legal actions which often involved the apparatuses of the municipalities administered by left/social democrat mayors.
SYRIZA’s attempts to recuperate the mobilizations were widely successful and a rather easy task due to the latter’s interclass composition and political content: the assemblies, even when they were predominantly composed of proletarians of all sorts, never defined themselves as working class collectivities; they were rather perceived by the majority of their members as assemblies of local citizens/private individuals/private property owners. From there it was a short step to be subsumed into the social-democratic discourse of “citizens’ social rights”, “common goods rights”, etc. which has been promoted by SYRIZA. For example, the neighbourhood assemblies have organized a series of so-called solidarity activities, such as soup kitchens, self-organized health centers, co-operative (simple) commodity exchanges, service exchanges (e.g. foreign language classes) within an interclass anti-government framework. This self-managed austerity strategy was widely adopted by SYRIZA, which, as will be shown below, has included a “social” or “solidarity” economy as one of the “pillars” of its program for the “productive reconstruction of the Greek economy”. Today, SYRIZA controls a plethora of such rank and file “solidarity” organizations including self-organized health centers and pharmacies, commodity exchanges, poverty relief groceries, etc. Our position that the boundaries between such projects and charities led by the Church and NGOs are blurred has been confirmed by the recent declarations of support for the philanthropical mission of the Church, which were expressed by the president of SYRIZA at a meeting with the Archbishop in a church charity institution. Furthermore, SYRIZA utilized the neighbourhood assemblies in order to strengthen its local branches, which often copied the assembly form and recruited members from the neighbourhood assemblies.” – here
But the germ of this retreat and recuperation was already there in the Sic/Theorie Communiste mentality, its heavily abstract notion of theory. This mentality always takes on an idea of theory as something specialist, for theoreticians. That’s why it’s often a question of theory of theory. But it is rarely something for proletarians in struggle, as a support, encouragement and clarification of this struggle (which is not to say that those low in the Sic/TC hierarchy don’t sometimes contribute to proletarian practice – e.g. in the anti-shale gas struggles, or by opening up squats). This produces in those who identify and produce these “ideas” an intellectual role with an attitude of superiority towards people who haven’t read all the abstractions of Roland Simon or who haven’t read all 3½ volumes of Capital 1000 times and can quote them as quickly as other people can yawn. It’s a theory which considers practical risk, and practical consequences as of a far lesser importance than the sophistication of their ideas. Oh, how they just love to wallow in the notion of their own sophistication!
Above all, this role demands no break with the hierarchical comportment learnt from dominant social relations and it’s not too hard for those people entrenched in this hierarchical role to “transform” themselves without embarrassment into a politician. It’s not surprising to hear that the TPTG broke with Blaumachen in 2009 precisely because of the Machiavellian manipulations of Woland.
There is also a link with the political mentality and the determinism of Theorie Communiste. Those who have created their own “good reasons” to see revolution as inevitable invariably create a hierarchy in which the partisans who recognise their explanation are placed at the top; the as yet neutral masses are in the middle, and their opponents who may have competing reasons or no reason at all, are at the bottom. Determinism, in turn, is a logical outcome of the separation reinforced by this “revolutionary” mentality between themselves and the rest of the proletariat. If one cannot conceive of the masses as individuals capable of determining the conditions of their existence through conscious choice, as people capable of choosing to make a revolution, then it is necessary for a special enlightened group to supply them with an external motivation they can’t resist and which becomes a mentality of faith in the thought of this group which replaces their own theory, colonises their own point of view.
I could say more about Theorie Communiste and all this Sic shit, but for the moment, I’ll leave the last word to a contact who wrote:
Postscript to “The Minister of Sic”
1. Response from Theorie Communiste to the above text (translation posted on Anarchist News):
« Put the record straight »
Manos aka Woland (or the other way around) »
1. « Théorie Communiste » was in no way the « organiser » of the public meetings in Lyon and Marseilles the 11th and 12th April, and most of us regret not being able to take part in these meetings on the situation in Greece, which were an excellent idea.
2. « Théorie Communiste » left Sic in July 2013, nevertheless keeping friendly relationships with some of the members of the collective.
3. The friend who spoke at those public meetings was as far as we know never a member of «Blaumachen» (a group that has been inactive since summer 2014) – not that being a member of blaumachen was ever a fault!
4. Manos / Woland made a choice, which was neither that of T.C., Sic, blaumachen, or the organisers of these public meetings.
So much for the facts. For the rest, if it makes some « Delinquents of the Dialectic » or «Children of Paradise» happy to find the reasons for Manos / Woland becoming a ministerial secretary or a banker in communisation theory or even the « elitist abstractions » of T.C., they are welcome. The infinite resources of the dialectic are free for everyone.
2. Response from Tantquil to the above text:
I hope someone can translate this message giving some precisions to your article “minister of sic.”
Just to say a few words about the public meetings that took place in Marseille and Lyon recently.
– They were not organized by TC, but Table Rase in Lyon and the Communist Network Antigestionnaire Tantquil in Marseille. In these 3 cases, they are groups relatively distant from the pure theoretical thinking and developments in the medium. The activity of most of their members turned towards the struggles and self defense of class[I think they mean “our class”]. This partly explains our ignorance of the recent developments that Blaumachen and ex-comrade Woland may have had .
– The comrade who came was not from Blaumachen. His name is Andreas who was close to it a few years ago without actually joining it. Today he is part of SIC and a Marxist study group on the state which, moreover, Woland was a part of.
– He came mainly to discuss SIRIZA and how they came to integrate and get some of the anarchists and also communisateurs in their movement to vote .
– We were absolutely not aware of Woland’s betrayal, few people follow TPTG texts written in English from day to day and “60 days” had been read only by few people. The arrival of Comrade allowed us to learn about it.
– I have no doubt that the comrades from SIC and TC will eventually react to WolandGate but these are groups that meet little and they may take their time getting out a text on the subject .
(the original in French has been posted below in the comments boxes)
3. My response to the above comments from TC and Tantquil:
As has been pointed out by Theorie Communiste/TC and Tantquil, I made a mistake about the organisers of the meetings in France this last weekend. Apologies. Typical impatience on my part. Getting the balance between patience and impatience is difficult, but here I should really have been more thorough, and less careless. De Nouvelles du Front is a communisation site, which includes TC amongst other communisaters. Hence the confusion. Sometimes they present a united front (as in the name of their site) but obviously, as in all groups which have more a political mentality than an anti-political one, there is both rivalry as well as complicity. Behind the front there’s probably more rivalry than complicity but when it comes to that buzz word “communisation” it’s “united we stand, divided we fall”.
However, admitting to this minor error does not at all mean I agree with the essential aspects of the sicness that is inherent in TC‘s and Tantquil‘s fundamentally ideological mentality. It is typical politics to pick on a minor detail to avoid the essential. For TC Woland merely made a choice that was not that of the other communisaters, as if individual choice operates in a vacuum, and exists almost outside of the history of each individual, of his or her influences. The simple fact is that if you try (or claim) to fight alienation but do so in an alienated way, becoming a turncoat is hardly even a “betrayal” but a continuation of an habitual form of alienated social relation with merely a different content.
I could say a lot more, but for the moment I shall leave it to the TPTG to point out the fundamental re-writing of the most recent aspects of the history of this little affair, of the falsification of this history by TC but above all by Tantquil, which illustrate the political mentality nurtured by much of this communisater milieu (at least in Europe) which could give rise so easily to the opportunism of Woland.
4. The TPTG’s response to the above comments
The sub-minister of Sic and his comrades
Tantquil’s response to SamFanto’s mistake that their event in Marseille with an ex-member of Blaumachen was organized by Theorie Communiste revealed some more depressing and at the same time funnier things about the circle of communisateurs in France and Greece than his article on the sub-minister and banker of SIC in Greece does.
Before getting round to Tantquil’s entertaining response which is full of imprecisions and, sometimes, outright lies (some of them certainly coming from their guest speaker), let’s start from the beginning.
Well, this whole story started when on April 7 we came across this announcement on DNDF http://dndf.org/?p=14112 and this one on http://kiosque13.noblogs.org/ (see photo below). According to the programme of this Kiosque in Marseille, there was going to be an event on Greece there on April 12. Even those who can barely understand French can get what the event was going to be about, who the guest speaker was and where one had to look to find his group’s texts: Discussion avec Blaumachen, des communistes grecques. Organise par la revue Tantquil pour causer de la situation economique, et sociale en Grece et aussi des lutes en cours. Les texts de Blaumachen sont consultables sur internet et notamment sur le site de DNDF ou de Badkids. (One should keep this announcement in mind as the story unfolds).
We immediately wrote the following e-mail and sent it to the organizers of the events in Lyon and Marseille (i.e. Table Rasse, Kiosque and Tantquil) the next day, April 8:
here is our latest text on the situation in Greece.
You can find the first part of our text here:
Please, read footnote 17 in the second text attached here:
“Dr. Milios is not the only communization theorist inside SYRIZA who abandoned his theory of the destruction of the law of value. Another one is Woland, an (ex?) member of Blaumachen and Sic. After having spent some odd years devising funny theories about the “era of riots” and the rise of the new revolutionary (non-) subject, Woland has now found something more profitable to do: he has become General Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, Infrastructure, Shipping & Tourism, Director of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank and Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. One of his many duties is to find the right government policy proportion of commons to privatizations, workers’ rights to capitalist investments. There is also something else which is of importance here. Many of the SYRIZA’s high-profile cadres, who have been appointed as General Secretaries or senior councilors in ministries, used to be active participants in the social movements. As such, not only do they have an in-depth knowledge/understanding of the movement and its practices, but they could also make use of their direct (or indirect) communication channels: from the mere acquisition of inside-information to the deployment of the (necessary) means of mediation even further inside the anti-authoritarian milieu and the movement in general. To give just one example, the traditional clientelist system is still being reproduced by partially integrating countercultural, counterpolitics and other informal social networks”.
This person, Woland, has been the main theoretician of Blaumachen for almost 10 years. He is a member of Sic and many of his articles have been published in this journal. He was also a leading member of the Marxist discussion group on the state mentioned in the announcement of the event you are going to organize with another member of Blaumachen.
Keep in mind that no members of Blaumachen or the Marxist discussion group on the state have publicly criticized their comrade, Woland, in Greece for his political choice to become a capitalist state functionary (in fact, a high rank state functionary involved in privatizations and capital investment plans). It is important to note that all members of these two groups knew about his political relationships with Syriza during the last years.
There is also something else which is important:
This party’s electoral victory is neither “a direct representation of Syntagma Square in May-June 2011” nor “SYRIZA is the political expression of the previous wave of struggles, that is to say, in a sense its integration with the State or its étatification, not its elimination or defeat”, as it is mentioned in the announcement about the forthcoming event. Contrary to this apologetic point of view, this electoral victory is exactly the result of the retreat, defeat or recuperation of the movement, as we explained in the first part of our text (http://dndf.org/?p=14031).
This is also proved by the special case of the retreat and recuperation of the Blaumachen member in the state apparatus.
Since we are not able to participate in it, we kindly ask you to read this e-mail during your event.
All the best,
We got no response at all, neither from Lyon nor from Marseille!
Only after SamFanto posted his article which is partly based on the above e-mail did Tantquil decide to say something 6 (!) days later on April 14. And what do we get? Some incomprehensible and silly excuses that because “the activity of most of their members turned towards the struggles and self defense of class [?], this partly explains our ignorance of the recent developments that Blaumachen and ex-comrade Woland may have had”! No mention of our e-mail at all! And what a neutral expression: “ex-comrade Woland”!
They even go on in the same shameless tone: “We were absolutely not aware of Woland’s betrayal, few people follow TPTG texts written in English from day to day and “60 days” had been read only by few people. The arrival of comrade allowed us to learn about it.”
The “comrade” who let them know on April 12 what they had already learnt from us 4 days earlier is, according to Tantquil, “not from Blaumachen. His name is Andreas who was close to it a few years ago without actually joining it. Today he is part of SIC and a Marxist study group on the state which, moreover, Woland was a part of”. That’s the first time in six years that we hear that Andreas who joined Blaumachen in 2009… did not actually join it! (The same lie is repeated by TC in their response to SamFanto’s article on DNDF). Whether he was a “special collaborator” of this group or whatever else they want to call it we don’t know and it doesn’t make much difference. He has been known both in Greece and France as a member of Blaumachen and this is proved by the fact that Tantquil in their announcement of the event on the Kiosque site (see the photo above) mentioned him as such. The event was supposed to be a “Discussion avec Blaumachen”.
Over the following days, after we had sent our e-mail to Tantquil, the announcement of the event changed completely: “Débat sur la lutte des classes en Grèce. Organisé par le réseau communiste antigestionnaire pour causer de la situation économique, et sociale en Grèce et aussi des luttes en cours. Un compagnon de la revue S.I.C. (revue internationale pour la communisation) viendra d’Athènes pour débattre avec nous de la situation et des luttes actuelles suite à l’élection de Syriza”. The change was so hasty that even the day of the event is now given wrongly on the same page of the site! (See http://kiosque13.noblogs.org/) The reference to Blaumachen’s texts on the DNDF and Badkids sites was eliminated.
What is even more interesting is that Woland was not simply “part of the Marxist study group on the state”, as is mentioned in Tantquil’s response. This group was actually initiated by Woland , Andreas and others in 2013, while Woland was already a scientific associate/director of the political office of a SYRIZA MP, George Stathakis, in the Hellenic Parliament since October 2012. (See Woland’s CV here https://gr.linkedin.com/pub/manos-manousakis/7/5/b22) Everybody in Woland’s communisation circle knew about his close relationships with SYRIZA. These relationships probably date from early 2012. This was the year when he started his collaboration with Dr. Milios (see our two articles on SYRIZA to find out who this guy is). Before the elections of May 2012 Woland was trying to persuade his close friends in the anti-authoritarian milieu to vote for SYRIZA. His close relationships with the party were not only known to “comrade Andreas” and the other members of Blaumachen/Sic living in Greece and England but they were also known to a Greek person living in Luxemburg who has a long standing co-operation both with Theorie Communiste and Blaumachen.
Those who were close to Woland, like the members of the Marxist study group on the state, needn’t be prophets to understand that once economist Stathakis was to become a Minister of Economy (or whatever) in a future SYRIZA government he would appoint his close collaborators like Woland to government posts.
On the contrary, all these brilliant theoreticians who wanted to illuminate us about the capitalist state not only did not criticize Woland for his job but they were ready to publish a book on the state early this year (including a text by Woland)! According to what a member of this State group told us recently, they decided to abandon the project only after their comrade became a sub-minister. What they wanted to avoid of course was to become totally ridiculed in the anti-authoritarian milieu in Greece where the jokes about communisation theorists have already started.
This brings us to the biggest lie included in Tantquil’s response: “He [Andreas] came mainly to discuss SYRIZA and how they came to integrate some of the anarchists and also communisaters into their movement and get them to vote”. First of all, nothing like that was announced in the original invitation to the events and, most important of all, “comrade Andreas” and “friend” of TC created a diversion in order to trivialize his comrade’s deliberate recuperation. No militant anarchists have been integrated by SYRIZA. This is a big insult against the only political scene in Greece that has challenged the SYRIZA government and Woland’s party during the last two months. Contrary to the anarchists, “comrade Andreas” does not even have the guts to criticize his ex-comrade publicly in Greece and go onto a self-critique as well.
As for Tantquil and TC, they had better ask their “comrade” what this group was discussing about the state while Woland was still a member of it and on his way to the top–and let all of us know about it.
We’ll stop here. More in a future post.
Added 20/4/15 –
a leaflet I wrote for a meeting partly about Syriza (this part was presented by someone from Tantquil) in Montpellier on 18/4/15:
tantquil leaflet (English version)
tracte tantquil français-corrigé (version française)
added 29/4/15: ” To be or not to be communisateur…”